Definition of Bullion Banks

Updated March 20, 2017

According to the World Gold Council, bullion banks are investment banks that function as wholesale suppliers dealing in large quantities of gold. All bullion banks are members of the London Bullion Market Association.


Bullion banks differ from depositories in that the banks handle transactions in gold and the depositories store and protect the actual bullion. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York stores and protects gold for a number of central banks and foreign countries. The U.S. Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, Kentucky houses most of the gold bullion belonging to the United States.


When a central bank loans or sells gold, the physical location of the bullion does not have to change. The bullion banks (clearing banks) conduct the financial transactions and ownership transfer takes place in the records of the depository.


Blanchard and Company, a large retailer in rare coins, names the six "clearing banks" that handle gold bullion transactions as: "Barclays Bank PLC, ScotiaMocatta, Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank and UBS AG."

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Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.